The Mountain's Silhouette

Hiking and backpacking in the mountains of Scotland

2015 in the Scottish Hills

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As Hurricane Frank gusts down the streets and water levels are rising above record levels on the River Dee, it’s a good time to pour a glass of beer and sit down to put together a review of my year out and about in the Scottish hills.

Towards Mull at sunset

First of all, thank you to everyone who has visited my blog, read my reports or looked at my photos, and particularly to those who have shared on social media or left a comment during the course of the year.

Kayaking on Loch Tay

2015 was a very enjoyable year. Although I didn’t do as much long-distance backpacking as I planned, I still got out with the tent on a few occasions and climbed a good handful of new hills. At the end of October I got to the top of my 200th Munro which felt like a significant milestone after almost 8 years of hillwalking in Scotland. I have lots of great memories from the year that not only included solo walks but also a few adventures with Leslie, both walking and kayaking.

Liathach across Upper Loch Torridon

Leslie by the Water of Tanar

Towards Loch Ness

Hillbagging and Stats

During 2015 I covered a little over 400km and bagged 18 new Munros (with 4 repeats) and 6 new Corbetts. The highlight of my Munro year was the summit camp on my 200th Munro, Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan above Glen Affric. I only managed six wild camps during the course of the year but each of them was memorable and four of them were on the tops of hills making for some great views at sunset and sunrise.

Wild camping on Beinn Chas

Morning below Bidean an Eoin Deirg

Scarp 1 and Binnein Mor beyond

Wild camp by Loch na Craoibhe-caoruinn

Wild camp on Sgùrr nan Ceathreamhnan

Ascent and distance stats for 2015:

Graph of distance and ascent for 2015

Meallan Gobhar across Loch Maree

Trip Highlights

Winter

Scotland had another mild winter but there was still snow to be found on the high ground. Between January gales I got out on a couple of occasions with others, once immediately after the new year to the hills above Strathdon with Dave, and then later in the month to the heathery hills above the Pitfichie forest not far from Aberdeen with the Stocket hillwalking club.

Descending to Glen Ernan

In Glen Ernan

Blue skies appearing over Cairn William

In February I ventured higher, repeating a couple of Munros in the White Mounth. The winds on the high plateau were incredible and dark clouds chased me back down past the Dubh Loch to the sunshine by Loch Muick.

Head of Loch Muick

Spin Drift on the White Mounth

Towards Carn an t-Sagairt Mor

Above the Dubh Loch

Loch Muick

I got my first backpacking trip completed in March when I returned to a favourite area: the hills north of Loch Monar in the North West Highlands. I traversed two shapely Munros before a descent to a high col for a cold, starry camp. The next morning I climbed onto the remote Munro of Maoile Lunnaidh under brilliant blue skies with not a soul to be seen in such a wild and remote place.

Summit ridge of Sgurr Choinnich

Maoile Lunndaidh and Bidean an Eoin Deirg

Orion over Bidean an Eoin Deirg

Bidean an Eoin Deirg from Carn nam Fiaclan

Creag Toll a'Choin

The River Meig from Creag Dhubh Mhor

Spring

With the daffodils now in bud we headed along to Ballater to complete the classic walk around the seven bridges. We were hit by a heavy snow shower near a ruined castle but coffee and cake soon warmed us up back in The Bothy.

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The last weekend of April brought glorious weather all across Scotland. My friends Matt and Jenny travelled up from the Wirral for a weekend in the Trossachs and I joined them for a very enjoyable day up the Munro of Beinn Chabhair. The views were excellent and the fearsome bog was reasonably well dried out thanks to the baking sun.

Ben Vorloch and the Beinn Glas Burn

Ben Lomond and Loch Long

Looking back to Beinn Chabhair's summit

We rounded off the day with a drink in the beer garden outside at the Drover’s Inn before parting ways. After saying goodbye I chose to drive around the coast to Loch Fyne where I grabbed my overnight stuff and half-ran up the nearest hill, getting my tent pitched on the summit of Beinn Chas in time to enjoy the most magnificent sunset. The next morning I climbed the Munro of Beinn Bhuidhe with stunning views across Argyl and some interesting underfoot conditions as the snow on the summit ridge rapidly melted. It was a long walk back down Glen Fyne to the car but the reward was picking up a box of beer from the Fyne Ales brewery shop.

Allt na Lairige beyond Glen Fyne

Sunset from Beinn Chas

Arrochar hills before sunrise

Ben Lui from Beinn Bhuidhe

The River Fyne

Fyne Ales and the River Fyne

May brought about more adventures with Leslie when we decided to explore a stretch of the Coastal Path to the north of Aberdeen. The cliffs and coves near Boddam proved spectacular and we spent a very enjoyable day winding our way down to Cruden Bay, passing sea stacks and wheeling gulls, the Bullers of Buchan and the ruins of Slains Castle.

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I was keen to add some more new Munros to my tally but the spring weather failed to co-operate. In the end I managed with a day trip to Glen Lochay where lingering snow made the round of Creag Mhor and Beinn Heasgarnich quite spectacular under mostly sunny skies.

Upper Glen Lochay and Ben Challum

Skies over Creag Mhor

Clouds over Creag Mhor

Creag Mhor

Tumbling stream east of Beinn Heasgarnich

Finally in June I found a decent weather window and this time headed to the North West to bag some new Munros and Corbetts in the Coulin forest south of Torridon. These hills are monolithic blocks and I was glad when the tenacious clag finally cleared to give me some views from their lofty summits. Heavy west coast rain caught me up on the descent to Loch an Eoin where I camped for the night. Happily the next morning dawned still and sunny and I spent a great day traversing the long spine of Sgurr Ruadh before finishing on the Corbett of Fuar Thol.

An Ruadh-Stac

Loch an Eoin from Maol Chean-dearg

The descent towards Beinn Damph

Still Morning

Torridon Panorama II

Beinn Liath Mhor

The Mainnrichean Buttress of Fuar Tholl

Summer

We spent three weeks of the summer enjoying hot and humid conditions in Georgia and North Florida. Summer in Scotland wasn’t the best and it wasn’t until August that I got out into the hills again. I finally ventured into the Ladder Hills, enjoying a pleasant circuit from Glenlivet where the heather was in bloom.

Glenlivet Hills

The Ladder Burn

Across Glenlivet

Later on in the month I got the tent out again, completing an enjoyable circuit of the hills east of Loch Treig. This took me up the long northern ridge of Beinn na Lap, a Munro more often climbed from the station at Corrour, before camping high and then returning to Fersit via the two Munros above the fjord-like Loch Treig.

Scotways signage on the route to Ossian

Light and shade on the way to Beinn na Lap

Looking south from Garbh-beinn

Loch Treig from Stob Coire Sgriodain

Autumn

The unsettled weather continued into September but I managed to get a good weekend in the North West picking up five new Munros strung out along a horseshoe of interconnecting ridges between Glens Cluanie and Affric. I had a high camp in the clag but Sunday steadily improved and I got views from the final two hills of the trip.

The River Affric

Mist over the pinnacles of Mullach Fraoch-choire

Summit of Carn Ghluasaid

Light over upper Coire Doe

Cairn on Carn a' Choire Ghairbh

The Allt Garbh path

Mid-October brought unseasonably warm weather and I took the opportunity to revisit Bynack More in the Cairngorms before following a new route down to the east end of Loch Avon which was as still as glass. I followed the Avon down to the refuge and then bagged a new Corbett, Creag Mhor, on my way back to the car beyond Ryvoan.

Loch Avon

Towards Shelter Stone Crag

From the summit of Creag Mhor

My final big trip of the year took me back to the northwest Highlands and the western end of Glen Affric. Here a long walk in through An Caorann Mor from Loch Cluanie brought me through to Affric. I headed up to An Socach and then followed the wonderfully rugged east ridge all the way to the summit of Sgùrr nan Ceathreamhnan, my 200th Munro. After following the scrambly ridge to the west top I found an idyllic camp with incredible sunset views across to Skye and Knoydart. The next day was cloudier but I enjoyed a final Corbett before dropping down for a long walk out to the car.

An Caorann Mor

Glen Affric

Stob Coire na Cloiche

Summit of Sgùrr nan Ceathreamhnan

Over the sea to Skye

Sunset from Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan

Autumnal mist and deer

A' Ghlas Beinn acorss Gleann Gaorsaic

November was a bit of a write-off and it wasn’t until late in December that I managed to get out - heading to the North York Moors with my Mum for a wander along from Cringle Moor to the impressive Wain Stones.

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Beyond Scotland

We visited family in Georgia during June and July. Whilst there we managed to fit in a few small hikes. I was very excited to finally set foot on the Appalachian Trail when we walked up to Preacher’s Rock in the North Georgia Mountains.

The view from Big Cedar Mountain

At the coast we took a walk on the idyllic Cumberland Island breathing in the sights and sounds of maritime forest and a glorious stretch of white beach.

Maritime forest on Cumberland Island

Targets

  • A total of 30 day walks and camping trips

25 different trips including day walks, kayaks and camping trips.

  • Wild camp on an island

Not achieved this year.

  • Climb 50 new Munros

Not achieved this year - 18 new Munros.

  • Return to Torridon

Yes, although the weather put paid to any walking on a stormy weekend in October. The sun was shining as we drove home of course…

Liathach

  • Camp on Ben Hope

Not achieved this year.

Targets for 2016

  • A total of 30 day walks and camping trips
  • Wild camp on an island
  • Climb 50 new Munros
  • Camp on Ben Hope

Hail and Rainbow, Loch Duich

Fowlsheugh

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Other People’s Trips

Coming soon!

Previous Year Reviews

Read previous year’s articles:

Wain Stones Sunset

Finally, don’t forget you can read about all my 2015 trips by visiting the reports page, and view more photos over on Flickr. Thanks again for reading my blog in 2015.

By Loch Avon, Cairngorms

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